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Commensality, irrigation and agrarian entanglements in Early Horizon Nepeña, Coastal Peru

Abstract : This article considers the extensification of cultivated fields and irrigation networks, and the concomitant intensification of farming practices in the lower Nepeña Valley during the Early Horizon (800-200 BC). This period marked shifts in local procurement strategies, production intensities and food preferences. Beginning around the sixth century BC, various processes led to profound, long-lasting shifts in the perception and management of agriculture in this small valley of the north-central coast of Peru. Recent archaeological investigations highlight the emergence of dense human settlements, the increased importance of camelids for regional trade, and a heavy reliance on maize to produce alcoholic beverages. The synergistic effect of these processes appear to have included new opportunities for social and political competition in which food—and in particular maize cultivation—might have occupied a more salient role. While taxonomic data on floral and faunal remains have been published and allow a reconstruction of diachronic changes in local foodways, little is known about ancient field systems. This article considers the distribution of irrigation systems and ancient human settlements to evaluate levels of farming production during the first millennium BC. Results of the spatial analyses are considered in light of the complex entanglements between commensal politics, agrarian labor traps, and broader path dependencies in ancient coastal Peru.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 5:41:15 PM
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David Chicoine, Caitlyn Mcnabb, Beverly Clement. Commensality, irrigation and agrarian entanglements in Early Horizon Nepeña, Coastal Peru. Americae. European Journal of Americanist Archaeology, CNRS, 2020, 5, pp.7-22. ⟨hal-02927578⟩

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